Unconferences: Useful or a Waste of Time?

Filed as News on April 21, 2008 7:30 am

“Unconventions” or “unconferences” are the new schmoozefest of choice. From PodCamp to BarCamp, folks step out from behind their computers, gel their hair, and pick out a casual shirt that says, ‘I’m relevant.’

Here’s my question: Can a room full of people, many of whom have the same goals, really help take your Website or blog to the next level?

I understand you can learn stuff and form relationships. But how does this information differ from what we read or do online?

Bloggers might be better served attending an expo – within their niche – that is more than just other bloggers. It seems to me that blogging and podcasting circles have become quite incestuous. A bunch of folks tooting their own horns, collecting swag and exchanging business cards.

I’ve never been a fan of trade shows, expos, unconferences or whatever else you want to call them. Perhaps it’s the anti-sales introvert in me resisting.

Open my eyes.

Do you think these events really help? And can anyone quantify specifically how they’ve helped your blog? (Aside from getting other bloggers to click over and/or link to you – which I understand is a big part of the game).

I’m toying with the idea of attending PodCamp this coming weekend. How can I make the most of the experience?

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  1. By GoingLikeSixty posted on April 21, 2008 at 8:51 am
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    Are you expecting too much?
    Try going with the expectation of getting two or three “aha” moments.

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  2. By Andrew G.R. posted on April 21, 2008 at 8:55 am
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    Perhaps my expectations are high. But I’ve seen many people fly across the country to attend these types of events. Since time is money, I’m just wondering if X # of hours would be better spent elsewhere… or not.

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  3. By Aaron B. Hockley posted on April 21, 2008 at 9:03 am
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    I wouldn’t fly across the country to attend such an event, but I’m a big fan and have attended several such events locally. Are they worth spending a day or two of your time? Definitely. One of the nice things about something like BarCamp is that it is what you make it. You aren’t forced to attend certain sessions, and it’s encouraged/expected that all participants will come with some ideas to discuss. Heck… it might be interesting to lead a discussion on whether or not Unconferences work, and what might work better!

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  4. By Don Schaefer posted on April 21, 2008 at 11:29 am
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    Have a look at the presenters. If you are not impressed, offer your own presentation. That’s the idea of PodCamp.

    Not being entirely sophisticated in the blog/podcast area, I learned huge amounts at Podcamp Boston 2, and plan to go to 3.

    It’s cross-pollination. You take, you give.

    :>)

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  5. By Matt Craven posted on April 21, 2008 at 2:06 pm
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    They’re good conferences – as long asyou pick which ones you want to goto.

    I’ve been to bloggercon (twice) and minnebar (barcamp minnesota) – and will be at minnebar again this year. Well worth it.

    I’ll have an interview up with the minnebar organizers sometime this week.

    Matt

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  6. By Stephen Downes posted on April 22, 2008 at 12:51 pm
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    > And can anyone quantify specifically how they’ve helped your blog?

    If you want the impact quantified – especially ahead of time – they probably won’t help you.

    Reply

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